Christie Brinkley once had a terrifying run-in with an elephant.

The 63-year-old model became an advocate for the endangered animals after coming face-to-face with a mother and her calf while working on a shoot for Sports Illustrated magazine over 25 years ago.

Christie, who had then-four-year-old daughter Alexa Ray - who she has with ex-husband Billy Joel - with her at the time, recalled to Social Life magazine: ''I found myself eye-to-eye with a surprised and angry mother protecting her baby.

''She raised her trunk and trumpeted a warning! If I had [big] ears, I would have flapped them back at her. We clapped our car doors . . . We were two moms willing to die to protect our babies.''

Meanwhile, Christie recently admitted she enjoys wearing a bikini when she's just wandering around her house and garden.

She said: ''I always put a bikini on and say, 'Oh, it is just to wear around the house. I am not going to go anywhere in it. I just want to get a little colour while I am gardening'.

''I run around trimming my begonias to even everything out so I don't have any tan lines.

''When you're naked, you want those parts tanned.''

Christie - who as well as Alexa, now 31, also has Sailor, 19, and 22-year-old son Jack with ex-husband Peter Cook - believes if a woman of any age and size if ''brave enough'' to don a skimpy bikini, they should continue to do so regardless of any critical comments they receive.

She said: ''You know what? You can't really critique a person over 50 -- it is just like, if they are brave enough to put on a bikini then you let them be.''